Environmental Earth Sciences

, 76:183 | Cite as

Seasonal disparity in the co-occurrence of arsenic and fluoride in the aquifers of the Brahmaputra flood plains, Northeast India

  • Nilotpal Das
  • Kali P. Sarma
  • Arbind K. Patel
  • Jyoti P. Deka
  • Aparna Das
  • Abhay Kumar
  • Patrick J. Shea
  • Manish KumarEmail author
Original Article


Arsenic (As) and fluoride (F) in groundwater are increasing global water quality and public health concerns. The present study provides a deeper understanding of the impact of seasonal change on the co-occurrence of As and F, as both contaminants vary with climatic patterns. Groundwater samples were collected in pre- and post-monsoon seasons (n = 40 in each season) from the Brahmaputra flood plains (BFP) in northeast India to study the effect of season on As and F levels. Weathering is a key hydrogeochemical process in the BFP and both silicate and carbonate weathering are enhanced in the post-monsoon season. The increase in carbonate weathering is linked to an elevation in pH during the post-monsoon season. A Piper diagram revealed that bicarbonate-type water, with Na+, K+, Ca2+, and Mg2+ cations, is common in both seasons. Correlation between Cl and NO3 (r = 0.74, p = 0.01) in the post-monsoon indicates mobilization of anthropogenic deposits during the rainy season. As was within the 10 µg L−1 WHO limit for drinking water and F was under the 1.5 mg L−1 limit. A negative correlation between oxidation reduction potential and groundwater As in both seasons (r = −0.26 and −0.49, respectively, for pre-monsoon and post-monsoon, p = 0.05) indicates enhanced As levels due to prevailing reducing conditions. Reductive hydrolysis of Fe (hydr)oxides appears to be the predominant process of As release, consistent with a positive correlation between As and Fe in both seasons (r = 0.75 and 0.73 for pre- and post-monsoon seasons, respectively, at p = 0.01). Principal component analysis and hierarchical cluster analysis revealed grouping of Fe and As in both seasons. F and sulfate were also clustered during the pre-monsoon season, which could be due to their similar interactions with Fe (hydr)oxides. Higher As levels in the post-monsoon appears driven by the influx of water into the aquifer, which drives out oxygen and creates a more reducing condition suitable for reductive dissolution of Fe (hydr)oxides. An increase in pH promotes desorption of As oxyanions AsO4 3− (arsenate) and AsO3 3− (arsenite) from Fe (hydr)oxide surfaces. Fluoride appears mainly released from F-bearing minerals, but Fe (hydr)oxides can be a secondary source of F, as suggested by the positive correlation between As and F in the pre-monsoon season.


Arsenic Fluoride Groundwater Quality Hydrogeochemical process Weathering Brahmaputra River India 



This work is funded by Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), the Department of Science and Technology (DST), under the Govt. of India under the Fast Track Young Scientist Scheme awarded to Dr. Manish Kumar (SR/TP/ES-32/2012). Nilotpal Das likes to thank the assistance received from Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)—India, for financial assistance as JRF [09/796(0052)/2012-EMR-1]. We acknowledge the help received for the cation analysis by IC, to the project “Physico-chemical characterization of aerosol and source apportionment in the mid-Brahmaputra plain in Assam: A modeling approach” funded by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, India: MoES/16/16/10-RDEAS.

Supplementary material

12665_2017_6488_MOESM1_ESM.docx (21 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 20 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nilotpal Das
    • 1
  • Kali P. Sarma
    • 1
  • Arbind K. Patel
    • 1
  • Jyoti P. Deka
    • 1
  • Aparna Das
    • 1
  • Abhay Kumar
    • 2
  • Patrick J. Shea
    • 3
  • Manish Kumar
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Environmental ScienceTezpur UniversityTezpurIndia
  2. 2.Central Institute of Educational Technology (CIET)National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT)New DelhiIndia
  3. 3.School of Natural ResourcesUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA
  4. 4.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

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